One of the most amazing gifts I have been given through writing is meeting other writers in person. Many of you know that one of my favorite writing friends is Melinda Means. Melinda and I are both part of The M.O.M. Initiative writing team, and she has traveled to Dothan to speak at Covenant's recent M.O.M. Initiative conference with me last year. I'm so excited to share with y'all today Melinda's new book, Invisible Wounds: Hope While You're Hurting. When she asked me to endorse her book, I was honored! After reading it, here's what I had to say:
Today, I'm excited for you to get a glimpse into the story of Invisible Wounds with a guest post from Melinda about the pain no one sees. Be sure to check out Invisible Wounds on Kindle or in paperback!
I think back to one of my favorite photos of my children.
Molly was three. Micah was nine months old. They look absolutely enchantingly adorable. Everyone’s smiling and looks happy.
It’s just the perfect photo—no easy feat with little ones. But let me share the story behind this “perfect” snapshot.
I had done all the right things to prepare for the child photography experience. They both had a nap, they’d been fed, and they were dressed in the required darling matching outfits.
I was golden.
We arrived at the mall. That’s when it got interesting.
I lifted my son Micah from his car seat just as he had a diaper blowout of legendary proportions. I used every baby wipe I had and he was still a poopy mess. I was so close to photo-taking victory I could smell it (unfortunately that’s not all I could smell).
So I wrapped him in a blanket and with my daughter in tow we high tailed it through the mall parking lot to find the nearest bathroom.
On the way, my daughter tripped and fell, ripping a hole in her white tights and scraping her knee. Time to throw in the towel? Nope. This newest setback only made me more determined.
In the bathroom, we made a tragic discovery: hand dryers—no paper towels. As my daughter handed me reams of toilet paper, I went to work cleaning up my son. We finally made it to the photo studio.
The result? Adorable.
My son’s plaid outfit masked the stains (if not the smell). My daughter’s strategically placed little hand covered that wound on her knee. No one would ever guess the trauma that had gone on behind the scenes.
Looks can be deceiving, can’t they?
Just like that photo, our pain lurks beneath the surface. It’s often camouflaged by busyness, a confident demeanor, or a tough outer shell.
We hide because we think no one else will understand. Maybe we think we’re to blame. We’re afraid of rejection. We believe it makes us weak. We don’t want others to feel sorry for us. We don’t want our pain to define us.
So we nurse our pain in isolation. We live alone with our invisible wounds.
After 20 years of chronic pain and illness—mine and my son’s—I bear the scars of isolation and discouragement.
My anxiety and insecurity—always a struggle—has sometimes felt nearly unbearable. At times, it has shaken my faith to its very core.
So what do we do with our pain? Where is God in all this? I don’t have all the answers. But here’s something important that I do know: God is not afraid of our questions. He isn’t surprised or appalled by our frustrated, tear-soaked temper tantrums (I’ve had more than a few). He just wants us to come to Him.
For years, I have looked for an outcome. Relief from my pain. I wanted healing. Period. I still do. But I’ve learned healing can look very different than what we imagine. Hope and healing can come through telling our stories. It can materialize as God meets us and reveals Himself in the middle of our struggle. It can materialize as we see God redeem our pain.
This isn’t the path I would have chosen for myself. It isn’t the journey I would have chosen for my son, who battles cystic fibrosis.
Yet pain leads us to a deeper walk with God if we are open to gifts that we would never have received without our pain. Others receive gifts they wouldn’t have received without our pain. God cares. He sees your struggle, sweet friend.
But He wants to do so much more than change our pain. He wants to use our pain to change us.
When our joy, freedom, and hope rest on an outcome, instead of a Person, we will ultimately be disappointed. It is not through the result—the relief of our emotional, physical, or spiritual suffering—that the most important transformation comes. It is through the relationship with Jesus.
I can say that genuinely and with complete conviction. Not because it’s what I’m supposed to say as a good Christian. Or because I’m in denial. It’s because it is what I know and have experienced to be true, particularly over this past year—the most physically, spiritually, and emotionally brutal season that I’ve ever experienced.
Your wounds may be hidden from the world, but they never escape the notice of a loving God. Through Him, we can find hope—even while we’re hurting.
© Melinda Means. This post includes excerpts from Invisible Wounds: Hope While You’re Hurting. Used with permission.
About Invisible Wounds:
So many of us walk around looking fine. Hidden beneath the surface, however, are deep, painful physical, spiritual and emotional wounds. We feel isolated in our pain. We feel guilty about the private doubts we have about God and His goodness. We live alone with our invisible wounds.
In this book, Melinda draws from her long history with chronic illness—hers and her son’s—and also shares the stories of seven brave, beautiful women who reveal their hidden hurts. Throughout its pages, she tackles the tough spiritual questions and dark, raw emotions that accompany suffering and illuminates the path that leads to hope that heals.
Author Bio: Melinda Means is a weary soul in need of refreshment from the only Source who can quench our thirst. After years of chronic pain and questioning God’s plan, she has found the joy of seeking the Healer more than the healing. She is a professional speaker and writing coach, as well as coauthor of Mothering From Scratch: Finding the Best Parenting Style for You and Your Family (Bethany House, 2015). Her website is melindameans.com.